Two months after Hurricane Matthew devastated the southern provinces of Haiti, rebuilding efforts are underway. In some areas, shiny new corrugated steel panels glimmer under the sun where the hurricane stripped away roofs.
What was once a lush green landscape, the country’s breadbasket, was left red and brown after Matthew’s strong winds and heavy rains uprooted trees, damaged plants, roads and left most houses roofless. Fortunately, nature has begun to take its course. Banana trees and vegetation have started to grow, turning the fields green once more.
Join us on a virtual journey to some of the disaster stricken areas to see how Haitians are beginning to recover:
In the fields, where up to 90% of crops were lost in some areas, farmers are determined to replant in time for the winter harvest.
The plaine des Cayes is Haiti’s farmland. About 600,000 Haitians are considered to be food insecure, so recovering as much of the winter harvest as possible is the number one priority for these farmers.
“We think the future will be good for us. The fields are in the process of being ploughed and once we have finished, we will sow, and we hope we will be satisfied.”
To support this effort, a World Bank project has provided more than 3,000 farmers and small-scale producers with seeds and fertilizer. It also offers free ploughing services to prepare the fields and speed up the sowing process, while also helping to recapitalise local providers who have been hired to plough.
Post-hurricane flooding also damaged crucial irrigation canals by washing away supporting walls, which filled channels with sediment and debris washed down the mountain by flood waters.
Cash for work initiatives to rebuild these channels not only offer vital employment opportunities for local communities, but also reopen irrigation channels and provide much needed water for the newly planted crops.
Before Matthew, just 65% of urban Haitians and 48% of those in rural areas had access to clean and safe drinking water. Hurricane Matthew affected access to water for 700,000 people.
In Simon, in the South department, a community managed water system including water kiosks, supported by the DINEPA with World Bank financing, provides drinking water to about 60,000 people and 400 families.
“After the hurricane, the other water sources were not good. There was too much water around, and it was dirty. This water (from the kiosk) saved us.”
Road transport accounts for 80% of all movements of goods and people in Haiti, with a road network of about 3,400 km, linking one end of the country to the other. But, in hurricane season this link is especially vulnerable to flooding caused by the excess rainfall.
The Ladigue bridge in Petit-Goâve was one such casualty. Following 36 hours of constant rainfall, the river rose with the flood water and washed the bridge away, cutting off road access to the provinces of Sud, Grand’Anse and Nippes.
Haiti has two types of rivers: permanent water ways and storm dependent rivers. The Ladigue river is the later, it fills rapidly from rain water but once the storm has passed, it dries to almost a trickle.
Matthew increased the risk of cholera and waterborne diseases. The cost of the hurricane on the health sector is high, with losses expected to total around US$56 million. The fight against waterborne diseases or “maladies D”, as they’re known in Haiti, remains a high priority across the country.
The Sainte Camille centre provides free treatment to people suffering from cholera or diarrheal diseases. It also runs preventative awareness campaigns and activities to reduce the risk across the community. Before the hurricane, improvements in cholera care and prevention had reduced the mortality rate of cholera in Haiti to less than 1%.
Community members have also taken up the baton, and share prevention tips and techniques in community conversations and meeting areas such as local markets and schools.
About 3,400 schools were damaged by Hurricane Matthew and 500 were destroyed completely. To ensure that students don’t drop out of school after the hurricane, the World Bank in collaboration with the Global Partnership with Education, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank, is financing school feeding, rehabilitation of damaged schools and tuition waivers to cover up to 50,000 children in affected areas.